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  • Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
    Lines of Charm: Brilliant And Irreverent Quotes, Notes, And Anecdotes from Golf's Golden Age Architects
  • The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    The Future of Golf: How Golf Lost Its Way and How to Get It Back
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    Grounds for Golf: The History and Fundamentals of Golf Course Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Art of Golf Design
    The Art of Golf Design
    by Michael Miller, Geoff Shackelford
  • Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    Alister MacKenzie's Cypress Point Club
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Golden Age of Golf Design
    The Golden Age of Golf Design
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    The Good Doctor Returns: A Novel
    by Geoff Shackelford
  • Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
    Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
  • The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    The Captain: George C. Thomas Jr. and His Golf Architecture
    by Geoff Shackelford
Current Reading
  • The Early Days of Pinehurst
    The Early Days of Pinehurst
    by Chris Buie
  • Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History: Heroes, Underdogs, Courses, and Championships
    by Bill Fields
  • The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf, and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta
    by Gil Capps
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir
    by Dan Jenkins
  • Professional Golf 2014: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    Professional Golf 2014: The Complete Media, Fan and Fantasy Guide
    by Daniel Wexler
Classics
  • Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
    by Geo. C. Thomas
  • The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    The Course Beautiful : A Collection of Original Articles and Photographs on Golf Course Design
    Treewolf Prod
  • Reminiscences Of The Links
    Reminiscences Of The Links
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast, Richard C. Wolffe, Robert S. Trebus, Stuart F. Wolffe
  • Gleanings from the Wayside
    Gleanings from the Wayside
    by Albert Warren Tillinghast
  • Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    Planet Golf USA: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses in America
    by Darius Oliver
  • Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    Planet Golf: The Definitive Reference to Great Golf Courses Outside the United States of America
    by Darius Oliver
Writing And Videos

The better you putt, the bolder you play.  DON JANUARY

 

    

Thursday
Mar292007

PGA Tour Returns To ESPN!

Well, sort of. Granted it's Big-Break-style programming, but a start. Oh and what's the "Challenge Event" schedule?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 29, 2007

PGA TOUR SIGNS MULTI-YEAR DEAL WITH
PEOPLE vs. THE PROS GOLF EVENT

Amateur Golfers to Compete Head-to-Head Against
PGA TOUR Professionals in Challenge Event

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL – People vs. the Pros, a unique tournament that features amateur golfers competing head-to-head against professionals from the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour, will continue its four-year run on ESPN as a multi-year deal was announced today by PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem.

The participants and site date of this year’s event will be announced in the near future.

“We are pleased to add the People vs. the Pros to our Challenge Event schedule,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “It is a format that the players have enjoyed competing in over the past four years, and we look forward to seeing PGA TOUR and Champions Tour players competing in the years to come.”

“We have enjoyed developing the People vs. the Pros series over the last four years and our thanks go to the PGA TOUR for rewarding our event by making it part of the Challenge Event schedule,” said Andy Batkin, CEO of the Manhattan Beach, CA-based Innovative Media Solutions, creators of People vs. the Pros. “To have our unique event sanctioned by the TOUR validates our vision to provide a fully integrated media and marketing platform for our sponsors.”

The first People vs. the Pros tournament was held in 2003 at Lake Las Vegas Resort in Las Vegas, NV. John Daly defeated his amateur opponent, but golf legend Lee Trevino was defeated by his amateur opponent, validating the concept.

The 2004 event was held at historic Pinehurst Resort & Spa in Pinehurst, NC. Daly defended his title and the colorful Gary McCord was the Champions Tour player. The final matches were played on the legendary No. 2 course at Pinehurst, site of the 1999 and 2005 U.S. Opens. Daly and McCord were both defeated by their amateur opponents.

The 2005 event was held at Barton Creek Resort and Spa in Austin, TX. Justin Leonard was the PGA TOUR pro, while Ben Crenshaw represented the Champions Tour. The final matches were held on the Tom Fazio-designed Foothills course. Leonard won his match 4 and 3, while Crenshaw was taken all the way to the 18th hole, prevailing 1-up.

Last year’s event returned to Pinehurst’s No. 2 course, where two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, the world’s third-ranked player, and McCord, in his second appearance in the event, both won their matches.

The format for People vs. the Pros features more than 200 amateur players competing over three days in a 54-hole stroke-play competition utilizing handicaps. The players are divided into two divisions: 49-and-under and the over-50 division, with each division producing a champion.

On the fourth day of the tournament, the amateur champions play an 18-hole match against the professionals representing the PGA TOUR and the Champions Tour. The matches are taped for telecast later on ESPN. The winners each receive $50,000 designated to the charity of their choice.

The event is open to U.S. and Canadian amateur golfers over 18 years of age with an established handicap; players can reserve a place in the tournament on the tournament website, www.pvpgolf.com.

 

Thursday
Mar292007

TPC Boston Update

Jim McCabe checks in with Gil Hanse and the gang at TPC Boston for a construction update, and the Globe's golf writer sounds excited.
"If it feels older and looks more rustic, then we've done our job. That would be a great compliment," said Hanse, whose work at TPC Boston is a convenient starting point to a local golf season ready to blossom. After a brief blast of snow, slush, and ice, brown grass and soft, mushy turf is at our feet, and golf courses are slowly, but surely coming out of winter hibernation.

TPC Boston isn't quite ready for play, but soon it will be. In the meantime, Hanse and his colleagues have the place virtually to themselves.

His star in the world of course architecture was considered bright by those within the sport's inner circles years ago, but thanks to his exquisite work at The Boston Golf Club in Hingham, Hanse is no longer a secret. He and Wagner -- a vice president and design partner in Hanse Golf Course Design, Inc. -- are involved in projects in California and Nebraska, and just returned from Scotland. Still, their commitment to TPC Boston has been nothing short of consuming, given that they jumped into the project within two weeks of Tiger Woods's victory last Labor Day and are still there, almost on a daily basis.

"When people ask what we're doing, it's been said that we're trying to New Englandize it, if that's even a word," said Hanse, who was busy Tuesday shaping a bunker at the 11th hole. Somewhere on site, Wagner was busy with another bunker, because if this project is about anything, it's bunkers.
This ought to catch and infuriate some dumb unprepared Tour player:
Hanse did that by combining a series of small bunkers in some spots, such as to the left of the first hole, which is now a large, rugged-looking hazard. But in some cases, a bunker was added, which brings us to the hole story in the 18th fairway.

"One of the really cool things they've done with the bunkers is to bring back some places where you really have to think before you swing," said Baldwin, acknowledging what has been a critique of the course, that it was more of a blast-away course and less of a shot-maker's dream.

Wagner gets credit for putting more strategy into the 18th with the shaping of a steep, links-like pot bunker in the middle of what would be the layup area at the long, par-5 18th. Long hitters will still rip for the green in two, but those playing it as a three-shot hole must take caution because that 20-by-25 feet of sandy real estate will put a bite into your score.

"It's just a cool pot bunker," said Brodeur. He concedes that he's overwhelmed by some of the changes, one of his favorites being the par-4 17th. It was a hard dogleg left that benefited long hitters who could cut the corner, but it now puts a premium on the approach shot, with a new green that is a mere 3,300-square feet.
And...
Hanse also has overseen a handful of sweeping changes, such as the cross-bunker at the par-5 seventh, a large expanse that begins roughly 140 yards from the green and runs 40 yards deep toward the green. And the stonewall work done at the par-3 16th and behind the green at the par-3 third? Baldwin and Brodeur think they add a mature, distinctive look that courses as young as TPC Boston (it opened in June 2002) rarely have.
Thursday
Mar292007

Mizuno Must Be Proud...

...the equipment maker sponsors GolfweekTV's must-not-see-TV, but for how much longer after this week's edition of Preferred Lies features editor Dave "Mute Point" Seanor and anchor Jay Coffin holding a spit-into-the-cup contest in tribute to Sergio Garcia.

Classy stuff.

 

Thursday
Mar292007

The Donald: "Golf Digest is a disgrace to their profession."

trump1.jpgTrump in today's New York Post, talking about Trump International's not-so-stunning departure from the Top 100:

"Golf Digest is a disgrace to their profession. They should be ashamed of themselves," Trump told Page Six. On its last list, Golf Digest, published by Conde Nast, placed the 27-hole West Palm Beach course on 200-plus acres at No. 84. This year it was banished, he said, as a result of a tense Nov. 28 meeting he had at Trump Tower with the magazine's publisher, Thomas Bair.

"Bair came to my office and told me the only way I'll get the ratings I deserve was if I advertised. I said, 'No thanks' and sent him on his way," Trump recalled. "Can you believe it? The magazine had already told me that I have built the best new courses in this country in years - but then they say I have to advertise to make it in? It's unbelievable." Trump said Golf Digest honchos have also been down on him because he featured the editors of rival Golf Magazine in episodes of "The Apprentice."
Yes, that's something to envy.
Bair refused to comment, but Golf Digest editor Jerry Tarde said of Trump, "I think he's kidding. He knows it never happened. Nobody can buy their way on the list."
Shoot, no one understands the list either! Nice Post typo here:
Gold Digest flack Andrew Katcher said the ratings were tabulated from the opinions of 800 players, and insisted, "It just came down to the numbers and nothing that Trump International did wrong. In fact, Trump International missed by just a few hundredths of a point."

And this is interesting:

Trump was further infuriated when he learned that Golf Digest had gloated about his course's demise in a story pitch it made to Page Six. In that e-mail, Katcher crowed: "I suspect Mr. Trump will be extremely displeased when he learns of this . . . Depending on what he says, we thought this could be a fun - and potentially biting - piece."

Trump responded to that: "They are using my name to try to get publicity for themselves. It's despicable they send out a release to announce Trump is not on their list. For shame!" The club, where memberships go for $350,000 and up, was rated by Florida Golf Magazine as "the best course in Florida."

Oops. Almost makes you feel sorry for The Donald that they're sending out releases to Page Six. Almost. 

Wednesday
Mar282007

A Few Rambling Golf Digest Ranking Thoughts...

  • I know I say this every time, but it's very hard to get past Medinah No. 3 as the 11th best course in America, ahead of Sand Hills, National Golf Links, Fishers Island, and Pinehurst. You can find more subtly, character and nuance in one hole than Medinah has in all 18. There's a reason Medinah has constantly been under construction (and surely will be again someday soon.)
  • The GolfClubAtlas gang is perplexed by Riviera's drop to No. 61, from 47th in 2005 and somewhere in the mid-20s in 2003. Apparently they've forgotten that a certain architect has treated George Thomas's masterful design like a Rottweiler treats a fire hydrant? Is this really that difficult to understand?

  • San Francisco Golf Club drops six spots after a restrained, first-class restoration by Tom Doak and crew? Depressing.

ratingcriteria.gif

  • Of the courses leaving the list (box left), Crooked Stick is the only surprise. More stunning is the continued exclusion of Baltimore Country Club (Five Farms) and Eastward Ho!  Resistance to Scoring has to be killing those two.
  • Speaking of the most ridiculous of all architectural evaluation categories, check out the bottom ten of 2007's top 100 in resistance to scoring: Laurel Valley, Kittansett, Estancia, Camargo, Maidstone, Milwaukee, Sage Valley, Sanctuary, Shoreacres, and Valley Club. Four of those courses would rate in the all-time most fun (they're in bold, in case there was any doubt). I'd consider each a model for ideal design. They're walkable, fun, quirky, enjoyable for all and filled with just enough nuance to keep a good player honest.
  • Ron Whitten writes: "In just the past two years, a number of former 100 Greatest courses have undergone major remodeling programs, including Atlanta Athletic Club, Bel-Air, Bellerive, Jupiter Hills, Oak Tree and Stanwich (Golf Digest's Best New Remodel of 2006). All that these courses need now are the minimum 40 panelist evaluations to qualify for reconsideration on the 100 Greatest."  Bel-Air undergoing major remodeling the last two years? Try the last forty!  

  • Ron Whitten writes: "The lesson for contenders and pretenders: If you're not improving, you're probably not moving. Not onto America's 100 Greatest, at least."  Now, I'm all for the restoration movement and blowing up dogs like Bellerive, but is constant improvement a message that needs to be sent?  Thoughts?
Wednesday
Mar282007

"The future of the tournament, and the way a new generation is introduced to the game...rests in Payne's hands."

masters_payne_299x377.jpgMichael Bamberger on new Masters chairman Billy Payne:
It's a tricky thing, what Payne wants to pull off. Frank Chirkinian, the famously innovative former producer of the Masters telecast for CBS, has described the tournament as great theater on the world's most beautiful stage, with amazing characters and an unknown outcome. For years it has been delicious. Too many lay-up shots out of the rough could kill the delicate balance of brawn and touch that made the thing so special in the first place. Too much exposure could too. The Internet is many things, but grand it's not. The future of the tournament, and the way a new generation is introduced to the game, to some significant degree rests in Payne's hands. He says that making good decisions is all about having a vision, listening well and "surrounding yourself with a good team." Clifford Roberts would never have said it that way, but he would have thought it. The new guy has the same mandate that Roberts did. Billy Payne's not trying to sell a thing-except a great game, a spring golf tournament and the club that hosts it.
Wednesday
Mar282007

Tour Preserves Integrity Of 4.5 Hour Round By Making AT&T National An Invitational

Rex Hoggard reports that the Tiger Woods-hosted AT&T National will be an invitational field, meaning we won't be subjected to those deadly 5-hour rounds. Oh, and there's just one more week of rankings security for the world's top 50. They need it!
Wednesday
Mar282007

"It's such a cool hang"

Tim Rosaforte's latest Tour Insider column features a fascinating tale of woe that started with a minor mistake in referring to Brett Wetterich's home course during his NBC segment. And now through the grave grace of God, he's managed to milk a 1150 word column featuring a modest 30 self references. Ah, the power of the Internet.

We've got this plan to play at McArthur, because Nicky has the greens rolling at 13-plus, and BW is getting ready for his first Masters. We shook hands and he said, "I just wish I made a few more putts," looking more down than up for a guy who just finished second in a World Golf Championship event. I told him what Price had said, and that put a smile on his face. What I didn't tell him was that I totally butchered a line on NBC, saying that Medalist was Nick Price's club.
The Medalist is Greg Norman's club, where Brett has had a membership since he was playing the Nationwide Tour. McArthur is the club next door that Nick did with Tom Fazio. Those who know golf immediately picked up the difference, I'm sure. It's like calling Shinnecock The National.
Actually, I was thinking it sounded more like calling the TPC Sawgrass The Villages. Anyway... 
Now I don't want to blame my faux pas on anyone, knowing it occurred because I broke the Jimmy Roberts' credo about talking slow. But I will say that just as I was delivering the information about Wetterich, Phil and Amy Mickelson showed up, stood behind the cameraman, and started mugging like two kids, popping up and down on both sides of the camera, making silly faces.
Oh those hucksters!
Phil was really there to see what I was going to say about him working with Butch Harmon, but that bit came later. And since it was late in the final round, and no time for small talk with Jimmy, I didn't get a chance to clean up that double I made referring to Nick Price's club.

That's McArthur, where one of my best friends, Kevin Murphy, is the head pro. Where they invite me to play in one of the best two-day events in golf, The Milk Jug. It's such a cool hang, so Nick Price in low-keyness, that there was a rumor Tiger wanted to buy up the rest of the memberships and call it his club when he moves to Jupiter Island.

Okay, sine that last sentence started to sound like a cross between Borat and Ali G, it's only appropriate to  feed this excerpt to the Ali G tranzlata...

we've got dis plan to play at mcarthur, coz nicky as da greens rollin at 13-plus, and bw is gettin ready fa is first masters. we shook ands and he said, "i just wish i made a few more putts," checkin more down than up fa a geeza who just finished second in a world golf championship event. i told im wot price did ave said, and dat put a smile on is face. wot i didn't tell im was dat i totally butchered a line on nbc, sayin dat medalist was nick price's cukabilly.

da medalist is greg norman's cukabilly, where brett as did ave a membership since he was playin da nationwide tour. mcarthur is da cukabilly next doa dat nick did wiv tom fazio. those who know golf immediately picked up da difference, me is sure. it's dig callin shinnecock da national.

now i don't dig to blame me faux pas on anyone, knowin it occurred coz i broke da jimmy roberts' credo about bangin slow. but i will say dat just as i was deliverin da information about wetterich, phil and amy mickelson showed up, stood behind da cameraman, and started muggin der two kids, poppin up and down on bof sides of da camera, makin silly faces. phil was for real there to check wot i was goin to say about im angin wiv butch armon, but dat bit came lata. and since it was late in da final round, and no time fa small natta wiv jimmy, i didn't get a chance to clean up dat double i made referrin to nick price's cukabilly.

innit mcarthur, where one of my wickedest boys, kevin murphy, is da ead pro. where dey invite me to play in one of da wickedest two-day events in golf, da milk jug. it's such a wicked ang, so nick price in low-keyness, dat there was a ruma tiga wanted to purchase up da chill of da memberships and call it is cukabilly whun he moves to jupita island.  

Wednesday
Mar282007

2007 Golf Digest Top 100

The list and story by Ron Whitten are now posted.

The news appears to be that for a change, there isn't much news. Four Five Six courses join the list (Lost Dunes, Calusa Pines, MPCC Shore, Tullymore, Kiawah-Cassique and Sycamore Hills).

Augusta, National Golf Links and Oakland Hills dropped a bit, Riviera and Valley Club dropped a lot. 

Tuesday
Mar272007

PGA Tour v. LPGA Tour?

Ron Sirak suggests that the maneuvering between the LPGA and PGA Tour is unnecessary, but I say it's downright entertaining.

The LPGA may lack the star power of the PGA Tour (although, arguably, the latter's star power only goes as deep as Tiger Woods), but it presents a more compelling product than the Champions or Nationwide Tours. Determined to increase its exposure, the feisty LPGA has fought back by out-maneuvering the PGA Tour on a couple of fronts that have largely gone unnoticed.

The LPGA created the ADT Championship playoff model, and its $1 million first prize, last year before the FedEx Cup became the subtitle for the PGA Tour. And LPGA officials were clearly upset at the Golf 20/20 conference last October when the meeting to discuss ways to grow the game of golf morphed into a pep rally for the FedEx Cup, at the direction of the PGA Tour. LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens (pictured) was so angry she left and had to be talked into coming back for the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.

Hearing something like that makes it tough to make fun of The Brand Lady. Oh wait, she gives her annual press conference today at the Nabisco Championship. I spoke too soon!

Tuesday
Mar272007

Tavistock Cup Complete...

...charity wins and now the golf world can finally focus on the Masters.

Steve Elling reports on the affair, which I'm really sorry I forgot to TiVo...

The T-Cup begins every year with a drumbeat of helicopter blades overhead, when the visiting team is flown from their club across town. In this case, it was the team from Isleworth, including Woods, Appleby and Charles Howell, being dropped off in the 18th fairway. Stationed a few yards away was a massive hospitality tent that will next be used at the Kentucky Derby, by the Queen of England, a Tavistock official said. Get the picture?

 “People make fun, but you could also argue that they are raising some pretty good money here for charity,” said Lake Nona’s Chris DiMarco.
Uh huh.
There were hole-in-one prizes ranging from Cadillacs to jewelry. As for the latter, a pair of statuesque female Cartier representatives were stationed in the sixth tee, wearing skimping evening attire, in case somebody knocked the ball in the hole. One fan dubbed them “Cardiac girls,” and it was just another head-turning example of what makes the matches a little different. OK, a lot different.

 

Tuesday
Mar272007

"Where do you come up with that?"

That's Tiger talking and it translates to, Doug, I think you've crossed under one too many airport metal detectors. Our beloved AP writer's unrequited love of the game led him to dig up a stat that reveals Tiger has had 50 different runner-up finishers in his PGA Tour victories.

The milestone even caught Woods by surprise, based on the fact he said nothing for a few seconds and even then had little to offer except for, "Where do you come up with that?"

Alright Doug, I admit it's amazing (and on behalf of everyone, I thank you for not quoting some player saying how it speaks to the extraordinary depth on the PGA Tour!).

But I thought this bit from Geoff Ogilvy later in the piece was more interesting:

"Here's a better stat," Ogilvy said. "Who's won the most times with him in the field?"

No surprise there, either - Singh with 13 victories, followed by Mickelson at nine.

Now, it doesn't always work both ways, because Woods has been a runner-up 20 times on the PGA Tour. He has been second to Singh and Mickelson three times apiece, with Lefty winning the tiebreaker.
Tuesday
Mar272007

Mickelson Reaffirms Support For Rick Smith By Working With Butch Harmon

From Tod Leonard in today's San Diego Union Tribune:

Mickelson reportedly played 27 holes at Augusta one day last week, shooting 65 for 18 holes and 31 for his other nine.

The San Diegan caused another minor stir Sunday when he briefly worked with instructor Butch Harmon before his final round of 69 in the CA Championship. The two were seen working together at the Accenture Match Play, but Mickelson downplayed it then, and he insists Smith remains his foremost swing instructor.
Tuesday
Mar272007

Ron Whitten Has The Best Job In Golf Now That He Doesn't Have To Deal With Panelists

Ryan Young of the Kansas City Star profiles Golf Digest Architecture Editor Ron Whitten. Highlights:
The last time the U.S. Open came through Oakmont in 1994, the story was Ernie Els winning his first major championship and Arnold Palmer playing in his final U.S. Open. But Whitten’s story was about an overgrowth of trees that had sapped the once mostly barren course of its character.

“The membership was so (angry) at me that they wanted to jerk my U.S. Open media credentials,” Whitten said. “But after the tournament there was a group that took that article and slowly, quietly persuaded members that there needed something to be done. So they had a midnight chainsaw massacre where they’d go out, literally at 4 in the morning, and cut down three trees and clean them up. … They’ve now taken 5,000 trees out, and the place is back to looking where you can stand there and look at this sweeping, gnarly landscape.”

If he’s not scouring the site of the next major, he’s just as likely to be paying his way onto a public course. One week Carnoustie, Scotland, the next the local sand greens course.

“I get really tired of playing with the pro, the superintendent and the club president, who are just lobbying the hell out of me,” he said. “I’d just as soon play with real people … who don’t know squat about me. It’s fun to interact and find out what real paying customers are looking at.”

And what has he learned?

Not everybody is counting the number of trees. Not everybody appreciates golf from his perspective.

“The average golfer doesn’t give squat about architecture,” Whitten said. “Condition, that’s everything. … Now everything is climate-controlled. Now everything has life-support systems, and we all expect our golf course on the opening day in March to be in the same condition that it will be in July, August and October. And that’s not realistic.

“I’ve written about it for 30 years. It’s a losing battle. We’re used to air conditioning. We’re used to cushy seats, and we’re used to having our golf carts with our ice chests and ball washers on them. … It’s crazy. So I’m sounding like an old man, ‘Back in the good old days …’ ”
Monday
Mar262007

"From a ball-striking standpoint, it's probably a perfect warmup."

Steve Campbell writes about the Houston Open's attempts to set up Redstone like Augusta National.

"We want to make it as Augusta-friendly for the pros as we can," Goettsch said. "We want to make it the best possible venue prior to the Masters that we can make. That's our goal: Get the golf course to that kind of condition and standard. We've tried to give them the type of shots they'll have at Augusta."

One of Goettsch's marching orders was to get the green speeds to at least 12 on the Stimpmeter. Another mandate was to shave the banks alongside the greens and water hazards, thus raising the cost of a slightly mis-struck shot. Closely mowed chipping areas are another ode to Augusta, which places a premium on creativity with the short game.

The rough of the 7,457-yard Redstone layout will be cut to an Augusta-esque 1 1/2 inches, which figures to bring the art of the recovery shot into play. That should come as welcome news to all the players who grouse about the mindless, hack-and-gouge play that tends to result from 4- and 5-inch rough.

"I think it's going to be a pretty darn good test," said Joe Ogilvie, who is the player director on the PGA Tour policy board. "(Virtually) every hole is a hook. At Augusta, (virtually) every hole is a hook. From a ball-striking standpoint, it's probably a perfect warmup."

And and there's a catch. Because as blogger Tom Kirkendall points out, there's one major difference between the two courses: the greens.

Mickelson -- who has not played in the SHO in years -- replied that he is not playing this week because the Tournament Course at Redstone is nothing like Augusta National and Redstone's bermuda greens will do nothing to prepare him for Augusta's bentgrass greens. Mickelson's comments were a clear shot at the SHO and the PGA Tour's decision to move the tournament to a date the week before The Masters.

So much for that "resemble Augusta" approach to reinventing the SHO.

Monday
Mar262007

"Somewhere it has all gone wrong.โ€

Paul Forsyth talked to Geoff Ogilvy for a Sunday Times profile.  Thanks to reader John for reminding about this.

“I’m not against the course being lengthened, but the fairways were never meant to be narrow. The point was that you had a paddock to hit into, but you had to make a decision as to what side of the fairway was good. Now you don’t have a choice.” Ogilvy regrets that technology has drastically changed many of the world’s great courses, rendered some of them redundant, and diminished the game’s entertainment value. By responding to Tiger Woods’s every achievement with more rough and more yards, they have made the spectacle more boring.

“You don’t need an array of shots any more, and that’s not good for spectators. Who wants to watch us drive into the rough, chip out to 80 yards, and try to get up and down? There is no excitement in that, no imagination or strategy. One day, somebody will realise that the score relative to par does not reflect the quality of a golf tournament.”

I like this...
By now, Ogilvy is getting everything off his chest, suggesting a think tank of the 100 smartest minds in golf to address the game's problems. “It is in everybody’s interests because it appears, in America anyway, that fewer and fewer people are playing the game. In the old days, you went out in a Saturday threeball, and in under three hours, you would be back in the clubhouse having a beer. Now, it costs you £150 and it takes five hours. At some courses, you’re driving a cart, so you don’t talk to anyone, and you’ve lost eight balls in the rough. Somewhere it has all gone wrong.”
And on the state of world golf... 
There ought to be more, however. Henrik Stenson, the Swede who last month denied Ogilvy a successful defence of his WGC-Accenture Match Play title, is still having to justify his rise to fifth in the world. “It’s incredible,” says the Australian. “Henrik plays well, and they all start questioning the validity of the world ranking system, but he has won four times in the past year. In the Match Play, they were talking as though this guy had never played golf before, and yet he had beaten Tiger in Dubai two weeks earlier. Some people here have a hard time looking past the borders of their own country.”

Ogilvy could do with another big win to cement his reputation. His US Open triumph would not have been possible without the dramatic collapse of Phil Mickelson, Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington. “Another major would make the first one more credible, but I’m not in this to influence what people think of me,” he says. “I just like doing it. Standing on the 18th tee at Winged Foot was the most fun I have ever had in my life. We don’t know how lucky we are.”

Monday
Mar262007

Have Agency, Need Architect

I guess you really aren't a sports agency without an in-house architect to serve your clients need$.

And now we have agencies stealing other agency architects! Isn't this fun.

Terry Baller Joins Gaylord Sports as In-house Course Architect

Spent last nine years in the field worldwide with IMG

SCOTTSDALE, AZ. (March 26, 2007) -- Terry Baller, who for the past nine years worked as a staff golf course architect at IMG, has joined Gaylord Sports Management as the Director of Golf Course Design. Gaylord Sports currently represents Hale Irwin, Phil Mickelson, Dave Pelz, Rick Smith and David Toms in the area of course design and real estate development.

“As we continue to broaden Gaylord Sports’ services, Terry gives us the opportunity to extend our reach in the golf course design segment and provide outstanding service for our clients,” said Gaylord President David Yates. “His worldwide experience with a company the stature of IMG will be a huge help in growing our clients’ course design and real estate business.”

Baller, 34, has a wide range of experience. He led the team that developed the IMG Golf Academy practice facility at Bradenton, Fla. He worked with Mark O’Meara on the Talisker Club’s Tuhaye Course in Deer Valley, Utah, currently on Golf Digest’s list of the top 10 new private courses in the country. Baller collaborated with designer Bernhard Langer on Le Toussrok, a spectacular course on an island off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean that debuted at No. 10 on Golfworld International’s list of the world’s best courses. And with designer Colin Montgomerie, Baller executed Zhuhai Golden Golf Club in China, ranked as that country’s best new course of 2003.

“I’m really looking forward to bringing my experience to Gaylord Sports and helping take our business into a new dimension,” said Baller, who has earned a degree in civil engineering at Cleveland State University and certification in turfgrass management at Penn State University. “We have ambitious plans in this area and I’m absolutely delighted to be a part of the team.”

Part of Baller’s responsibility will be to coordinate projects for the clients and the development partners. He will report to Tim Ummel, Gaylord Sports’ Vice President of Business Development.

“We now have an internationally accomplished in-house architect who can provide a range of services to our clients, developers and real estate partners,” said Ummel. “That opens a world of possibilities for us and we think it separates us from other groups in our industry.”

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Sunday
Mar252007

IM'ing With The Commissioner, Sergio Edition

As promised during his spellbinding sitdown with Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller, Commissioner Tim Finchem has contacted Sergio Garcia about his spitting-in-the-cup incident Saturday at Doral. And because they were done with their setup at Alberto Gonzalez's house (now that he's a goner), my NSA sources were able to obtain the instant message exchange between the Commissioner and Garcia. 

twfPGATOUR©: Sergio?

SharketteHunter: Timmy?

twfPGATOUR©: Do you have a minute?

SharketteHunter: Anything for my favorite Commissioner.

twfPGATOUR©: About that distractive behavior Saturday at the CA Championship.

SharketteHunter: The thing with the marshall?

twfPGATOUR©: No.

SharketteHunter: Oh the courtesy car?

twfPGATOUR©: No.

SharketteHunter: Wait, the guy I flipped off down at South Beach?

twfPGATOUR©: No. I am referring to the oral secretion that you discharged into one of Doral's cups.

SharketteHunter: Oh that. Well it was a clean hit. I just nailed the little opening where the flagstick goes.
SharketteHunter: You know, like when Luke Skywalker dropped that hit into the Death Star in Star Wars. Clean shot all the way.

twfPGATOUR©: I'm sure it was, but that's not the issue. This was behavior distractive to the PGA Tour, our brands, consumers, our good friends and corporate partners at CA, and not to mention, to your brand.

SharketteHunter: Distractive?

twfPGATOUR©: It's the adjective form of distracting.

SharketteHunter: So why don't you just say distracting?

twfPGATOUR©: There are many dynamics at play that make it a less appealing choice of words. Just review my interview with Dan Hicks today and I think you'll see that of all the possible permutations, it really was the best choice.

twfPGATOUR©: I should note that we ran several metrics and it tested best.

SharketteHunter: Well what do you want to know, Tim? I dropped a big loogey in the cup. Take the fine out of my account like you always do.

twfPGATOUR©: And as always, charity will be the real winner.

SharketteHunter: Whatever you say. Anything else?

twfPGATOUR©: I was thinking that we might be able cut into what I believe will be a record compulsory contribution to charity.

SharketteHunter: Tim, I'm not doing any FedEx Cup ads. That Shackspear thing is the dumbest ad I've ever seen.

twfPGATOUR©: Shakespeare.

SharketteHunter: Whatever. What do you want?

twfPGATOUR©: You are currently proactively engaged in pre-marital interfacing with Greg Norman's daughter, is that correct?

SharketteHunter: We're dating, if that's what you mean.

twfPGATOUR©: Do you ever ask Greg if he gets the urge to compete, say, on the Champions Tour?

SharketteHunter: Tim, it's not going to happen.

twfPGATOUR©: I know, I know. But, if it ever comes up and you feel that you can influence his platform agenda, that would be great. I'll make it up to you. I'll guarantee you will not be paired with Ben Crane at the Players.

SharketteHunter: Wow, great.

twfPGATOUR©: Thanks, I would really appreciate it. Also, have you tried Greg's 2004 Cab?

SharketteHunter: Yeah it tastes like it's been stored in a cab. I'm a Michelob man, remember?

twfPGATOUR©: Oh right. Well good to know. We've got a really nice plum bite to our '04 Cab, I'll have our people send you a case. We're very excited about it.

SharketteHunter: Excellent. I'm starting my own label, did you know?

twfPGATOUR©:  Really?

SharketteHunter: Yeah, Greg saw that Luke Donald was starting one and thought that the day had arrived when it was not necessary to have a major on your resume to start one's own label.

twfPGATOUR©:  Well you're in good hands there with Greg's advice.

SharketteHunter: I'll tell you him you said that.

twfPGATOUR©: That's not necessary.

SharketteHunter: Yes it is! :-)

twfPGATOUR©:  And please Sergio, let's try to not have any more oral secretions on the golf course?

SharketteHunter: I'll do my best Tim.

twfPGATOUR©:  For the brand's sake, if nothing else.

SharketteHunter: Right Tim.

twfPGATOUR©:  Give my best to...

SharketteHunter: She says hi back!

twfPGATOUR©:  Goodnight.

SharketteHunter: Adios amigo.
Sunday
Mar252007

Tiger's Pre-Masters Visits

After winning at Doral:

 Q. How many times in the years you've played the Masters have you gone to Augusta the week before you get there?

TIGER WOODS: Only when there's changes. Only when they decide to rebuild the place.

Q. So most.

TIGER WOODS: Lately.


Saturday
Mar242007

"He can do "nice" if he wants to"

John Huggan on Vijay Singh:
Actually, not many media outlets print much of anything said by Singh, for the simple reason that he rarely says anything worth printing. Just this past week, your correspondent e-mailed one of America's most respected journalists to ask if Singh had ever commented publicly on the possibility of steroid use in golf. The response was short and to the point: "Has he ever commented publicly?"

He has, but not often. Two years ago, Singh was approached by a journalist - OK, me - on the practice ground at Pinehurst just prior to the US Open. He was asked to name his three favourite holes in Scotland, a subject that both surprised and intrigued him. Not only did he take a few minutes to ponder his decision, he was interested enough to ask what holes other players had offered up. It was, to my lasting shock, a pleasant little interlude.

So he can do "nice" if he wants to; it's just that Singh rarely seems to want to.